Sufis and Sufism in India X-rayed
Sufis and Sufism in India X-rayed
Sufism is the bastard child born out of the intellectual rape of the Iranian literati by Islam. – Dr. Ali Sina
India is the land of spiritualism. The notion of secularism and peaceful co-existence is not alien to India. In fact, it has always been a way of life in this land, and the credit for this goes to the wisdom of our great Vedic ancestors, who were men of great letters and mighty spirit. Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Bahais all have found home and safe refuge in this great country and merged with Aryans (Hindus) – the original inhabitants of this ancient country.
However, the only exception to these immigrants was the Muslims, who did not come here to adapt themselves to the local culture and live in peace and harmony. They had only one aim — to subdue the native populations and flutter the flag of Islam in every nook and cranny of this once great nation. Islam smeared the face of this country with such a horrific paint that the colour still refuses to fade. While there is no denying the fact that Islam was spread in India mostly by the threat and use sword, there is another aspect of Islamic proselytization, which is ignored. This face is that of Sufism (Islamic Mysticism) and the Sufis (so-called Islamic Mystics).
Islamization of India was the main aim of the invaders, Sultans and Kings and Sufis alike. Hindu soldiers and Rajas, who resisted the process, could be ruthlessly trampled upon by elephant or beheaded and their dependents were enslaved. It was, however, not possible to behead the entire Hindu population which stubbornly refused to convert. Therefore, Hindus were given the option of living as Zimmis on payment of a tax (jizya), which normally was an alternative offered to Christians and Jews only. Even so, the Hindus, as Zimmis, became second class citizens in their own motherland. The main object of levying the jizya was to subject the Hindus to humiliation. The purpose was to give them some time to see the light of Islam in course of time and accept it. Sufis and the Ulema have often resented and bemoaned for this kind of “mild treatment” of the Hindus by Muslim rulers.
Amir Khusrau – the much advertised “Secular Sufi Saint” writes: “Happy Hindustan, the splendour of religion, where the law finds perfect honour and security. The whole country, by means of the sword of our holy warriors, has become like a forest denuded of its thorns by fire….. Islam is triumphant, idolatry is subdued. Had not the law granted exemption from death by the payment of poll-tax (Jizya), the very name of Hindu, root and branch, would have been extinguished.” (K. S. Lal: The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India)
Despite this, as is common in Hindu India, stories of miraculous powers of these Sufis were spread by naive Hindus themselves. Corrupted Hindu religion, after the Mahabharat War, had taken to anti-Vedic sacrificial rituals involving slaughter of animals and self humiliation. This gave rise, as a reaction, to the extremely non-violent religions of Jainism and Buddhism.
Buddhism, supported and encouraged by powerful Kings, like Ashok, spread peacefully and quickly even beyond the frontiers of India to Tibet, China, Japan, Korea, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Burma and South East Asian countries of Indonesia, Malaya etc. The enormous royal aid to Bauddh Sanghs attracted innumerable indolent young men and women to these Sanghs. As a result, corruption grew. Adi Shankaracharya, Kumaril Bhatt and other Hindu saints challenged these religions in public religious debates. Some powerful Hindu Kings’ having come to the throne helped. Buddhism gradually retreated from India, the land of its birth, but Hinduism, due to its porous character, accepted the saintly Buddha as one of the incarnations of Vishnu and his principle of Ahinsa and Shankar’s Mayavad (illusionism). In this process, it forgot and neglected the forceful and robust national Kshatra spirit of the Vedas.
While the spiritual body of Hindus was thus in convulsion, its political body was also ailing. There was no central authority; only small independent states were perpetually at war with each other. In these circumstances, they had no time to gain knowledge of the up-to-date military strategy, training and arms which had developed outside India.
The weakness of Hindu India in the political field led to its defeat at the hands of vigorous and seasoned armies of Islam under Mahmood of Ghazni. It was at this critical juncture that Sufism penetrated India unnoticed. Hinduism, by now, had become victim to all kinds of superstitious bigotry, believing in good and bad spirits, astrology, miracles and miraculous power of mendicants, fake Goddesses and Gurus, Tantriks and Aghoris, a cancer which will end only at its death. The Hindu religious mind was therefore, quite ready to believe the fantastic stories of miracles performed by the newly-arrived saints (Sufis) from across the frontiers. Consequently, easy-to-fool Hindus flocked to them in large numbers for amulets, blessings and advice. Their conversion to Islam was then only a matter of time. These sufis very well knew that forced conversion involved a lot of bloodshed of the Muslim soldiers. So, they adopted a much easier path for conversions. The Sufi method achieved conversions in a pleasant and peaceful manner without leaving behind any bitterness and chances of relapse.
Although Sufis were not averse to taking up the sword and participating in Jihad, mostly they called upon the Muslim Sultans for this purpose. They themselves presented to the naive and ignorant Hindus a face of devotional singing, dancing, renunciation and penance with which the latter was so familiar and which appeared to him, the signs of divinity in such Sufis. Thus began Islamization of Hindu India by the threat of sharp Islamic sword and under cover of sweet Sufi songs.
How Sufism came into being:
It is said that word ‘Sufi’ is derived from the Arabic word ‘suf’ which means ‘wool’ and “Sufi” literally means a person clad in woolen cloth. They were so called because they dressed themselves in this way, said to be the way of Muhammad the Prophet and his companions. It is propagated that Sufis believed in attaining God by meditation, fasts and singing His praises to achieve a state of ecstasy just like Hindu Saints.
However, the fact is that Sufism that was created during the 8th and 9th century A.D. was a reaction against the unenlightened, unfriendly and draconian nature of Islam. It was then that many Persian thinkers, disappointed with the inhumane nature of Islam, tried to reform it by searching for “deeper mystical meanings” in apparently violent and brutal verses of the Quran. What the Sufis did was a crime of foolishness. They taught a different religion, but for fear of rejection, they claimed it to be the “inner message” of Islam. Sufis claim that Sufism is the core of Islam while the Sharia is its outer shell. However, the truth is the opposite. The core and kernel of Islam is the venomous Quran. Sufism is only a gloss masking the real nature and object of Islam. In the words of Dr Ali Sina: “The Sufis could not reform Islam or make it more humane. All they did is to conceal its ugliness and thus make it even more dangerous trap for the unwitting victims”.
In fact, the Sufi doctrine is foreign to Islam. It is a borrowed ideology and invented by the clever but hopelessly sycophant bootlicking Persians who did not have the boldness to denounce Islam as a reckless cult of a crazed man and reject it in its entirety as a stupid cult. Instead, they sheepishly tried to reinterpret this graceless doctrine of ignorance, dress it with rationality and sugarcoat it with alien un-Islamic philosophies taken from all kinds of sources such as Hinduism, Zoroastrian, Christian, Jewish and even Buddhist to make it toothsome to their own refined mystical palate.
Sufism had partially its foundation in segments of Quranic verses like Alif Laam Raa. Nobody except Muhammad the Prophet and his invention called Allah has been able to know the meaning of these incomprehensible words until today. The Sufis of the early Islam took advantage of the obscure nature of segments of verses like this and alluded that there must be “hidden meaning” to these. Subsequently, they extended this “hidden meaning” to all the verses – including those which openly call for the slaughter of the infidels (all except Muslims) under clearly defined conditions. As nonsensical as it may sound, the same Sufis went on to claim that all Quranic verses have six different meanings. Think about the stupidity here: They even could not attribute a single meaning to ‘Alif Laam Raa’ – how do they know there are five other meanings? And such notion they had propagated, despite the fact that Allah has repeatedly affirmed in no less than a dozen verses that the Quran’s message is clear and written in simple language so that everybody can understand it easily – including by the people of Muhammad’s time, who were definitely much less intelligent than the people of our time.
Despite the fact that except Prophet Mohammad, the sainthood in Islam has been a debatable issue, Sufism of various orders in the name of their founder saints has become a universal aspect of Islam. Sufis are known as Islamic spiritualists and the Muslims (and superstitious Hindus) commonly view them as intermediaries between God and individuals.
Sufism: Spiritual or Politics?
It is awfully propagated that Sufism is full of spiritualism and could be a very effective means of promoting ‘Hindu-Muslim unity’ and social harmony, while the fact is otherwise. Contrary to the spiritual mission of Sufism, the cult was primarily introduced in India for spread of Islam with a view to helping the Muslim rulers for political domination. Sufis are considered as messengers of god who believed in peace, harmony and nonviolence. But contrary to this belief, we read many evidences of Sufis using all measures to convert Hindus to Islam. From stipends, grants, higher official posts, life threat, pardoning of life to brutal killings were main tools for them. According to Sita Ram Goel, “So far as India is concerned, it is difficult to find a Sufi whose consciousness harboured even a trace of any spirituality. By and large, the sufis that functioned in this country were the most fanatic and fundamentalist activists of Islamic imperialism…” (Sita Ram Goel, Hindu Temples – What Happened to Them, Vol. 1)
“No document attests to the peaceful preaching of the Sufis that most defenders of Islam put forward today” (A History of Modern India, edited by Claude Markowitz, Anthen Press, 2002, Page 33).
A close examination of the history of Islamic proselytization activities (Islamization) in India proves that Sufism through its missionary activities complemented the conversion of Hindus to Islam. Sufism, on one hand supported the Muslim invaders and Sultans in their political activities and reckless killings of the Hindus; on the other hand, it influenced the gullible Hindus through their drama of spiritualism and mysticism.
Kashmir is a typical example of Islamization both by sword and by Sufis. Amongst the Sultans who used force to Islamize Kashmir, the most notorious is Sikandar Butshikan (1389-1431). About this Sultan, Kalhan in his “Rajtarangini” says: “The Sultan, forgetting all his royal duties, took pleasure day and night in destroying idols. He destroyed idols of Martand, Vishnu, Ishan, Chakravarty and Tripureshwar”. But this is just a small tip of iceberg. The real credit of islamizing Kashmir goes to Sufis. Sikandar was a passing phase having lived only 42 years. Conversion by Sufis was a continuous process almost unnoticeable which lasted for centuries. Sikandar’s conversions were caused by utter terror. Sufis created conditions where Hindus voluntarily came to them and got converted.
These sufis did not object to the genocide of the Hindus and enslaving and selling their children and women by the cruel Muslim invaders. Almost all Sufi masters were silent spectators to the murderous mayhems and reckless plunder of Hindu temples by the marauding Islamic hordes across the subcontinent. They did not object to senseless mass killings of the Hindus and destruction of Hindu temples. Instead of advising the Muslim marauders against their inhuman deeds, the Sufis overlooked the plight of Hindu priests and saints, who were forced to flee and hide themselves. They praised Muslim invaders who killed millions of Hindus, plundered thousands of temples, raped countless mothers and sisters and sold young Hindu boys and girls in slave-markets of Kabul.
Anwar Shaikh in Islam, Sex and Violence writes:
“Since Islam declared India a Darul-Harb and the Indians as Kafirs i.e. the enemies of Allah, the foreign [Muslim] rulers also maximized the dosage of faith to the proselytes for quickening the process of turning them against their own motherland and brethren. To perfect this art of traitor-manufacturing, these monarchs secured the services of Sufism for proselytism. … These Sufi saints, who founded the Mystical Orders known as Qadriya, Chishtiya, Naqshbandiya, Suharwardiya, etc. and acted as spiritual patrons of the royal courts, were also foreigners, who came to India for perpetuating the rule of their countrymen in the guise of “Islamic Mysticism,” which has no real foundation in the Koran and hadith”.
By and large, the mystic Islamic saints enjoyed the royal favour and support of cruel Muslim rulers and gave moral support to the atrocious Muslim invaders and looked the other way to overlook the growing social conflict. They also guided the State in political affairs with their experience of regular interaction with common people. These sufis worked not only as the spies of Islamic imperialism but also as deceivers of gullible Hindu masses. During the period of Sultanate in India, these mystics were supposed to guarantee the prosperity to Islamic kingdom. They were patronized by the state for spreading Islam among the non-believers with their acclaimed spiritual influences in the mass. The gift and land provided to the Islamic mystics were used for hospice, and their tombs became a place of pilgrimage after their death.
According to well-known historian, Dr. K. S. Lal, “Hand in hand with the proselytizing efforts of the rulers was the work of Sufis and Maulvis. From the time of Muhammad bin Tughdaq (1326-1351) to that of Akbar (1556-1605), Bengal had attracted rebels, refugees, Sufi mashaikh, disgruntled nobles and adventures from North India. Professor K. R. Quanungo has noted that the conversion of Bengal was mainly the work of Barah-Auliyas. Prof. Abdul Karim has also referred to militant Sufi proselytization.” (Social History of Muslims in Bengal, pp. 136-138)
Sufis had accompanied the Muslim marauders in their conquest and brought Islam in contact with Hindu priests and saints. They were receptive to some of the local Hindu traditions may be for a tactical reason to entice the locals towards Islam but ensured that local norms are not accommodated against the watertight Islamic belief, dogma and practice of Quran, Hadith and Sharia – the fountainheads of Sufism. Sufi saints commonly viewed as symbol of secularism however, never opposed Jiziya (Tax imposed on non-believers) imposed on Hindus in Islamic India.
Under the patronage of the State under Muslim rulers, the Sufi mystics allured Hindu subjects for adoption of Muslim identity and superiority of Islamic tradition. The establishment of Sufi orders in India coincided with the rising political power of Muslims. “The numerous Sufi religious establishments in India were the major means of spreading Islam and adapting it to indigenous cultural tradition” (Islamic Mysticism in India by Nagendra Kumar Singh, former Chairman, Islamic Research Foundation, Delhi).
Passion to the essential spirituality of life was hardly found in any Muslim ruler, Prince of Sufi except Dara Shikoh (1615-1659). He was perhaps the only sincere Muslim prince whose “effort was to find a common ground between Hindu and Muslim religious thought” (Islamic Mysticism in India by Nagendra Kumar Singh, Page 179). For this he was accused of heresy.
In short, Sufism is a camouflaged and sugarcoated version of real Islam. It is just a façade. This so-called reformist and non-violent version of Islam is not really much different from extremist Islam. When push comes to shove, a Muslim is a Muslim and Islam is what Muhammad did in his life-time and taught in Quran.
Various Sufi Orders:
Suharawardy order of Sufism was founded by Shahabuddin Suharawardy of Baghdad and introduced in India by his disciple Bahauddin Zakariya of Multan. It became popular in Bengal.
Qadri order of Sufism was founded by Abdul Qadir, whose tomb is at Baghdad. Its influence is extensively among the Muslims of south India.
Naqshbandi order of Sufism was founded by Bahauddin Naqshband (1318-1389) of Turkistan. It insisted on rigid adherence to Shariat (Islamic law) and nurturing love for the prophet Muhammad. This order established its hold in India under the patronage of Mogul rulers, as its founder was their ancestral ‘Pir’ (Spiritual guide). “The conquest of India by Babur in 1526 gave considerable impetus to the Naqshbandiya order” (History of Sufism in India by Saiyied Athar Abbas Rizvi, Volume 2, 1992, Page 180) Its disciples remained loyal to the throne because of the common Turk origin. With the royal patronage of most of the Mogul rulers, Naqshbandi order served the cause for revival of Islam in its pristine form. Khwaja Mohammad Baqi Billah Berang whose tomb is in Delhi introduced Naqshbandi order in India.
Of the various Sufi orders Muslims (and Hindus too!) follow in India, the impact of Chisti order is visible even in small villages of Indian subcontinent. Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti introduced it in India. Born in Sanjar in Persia in C.E. 1142, he came to India with the army of Shahabuddin Ghori in 1192 AD and selected Ajmer as his permanent head-quarter since 1195. There he lies buried since his death in 1236. He is popularly known as Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (KGN) or Friend of the Poor, Sultan-Ul-Hind and Nabi-ul-Hind or Prophet of India. He is regarded as a leading preacher of Sufism among Sufis of India. His shrine became a place of pilgrimage with the support of Muslim rulers.
It is said that Akbar used to have annual pilgrimage there. He believed that it was thanks to this Sufi’s blessings that he got a son and the heir for the Mughal throne, and thus began a fashion (superstition) among Indians for fulfilling wishes by offering prayer at his mazar. Whenever he [Akbar] wanted to celebrate some happy event or seek blessing for some great undertaking – which was quite often, he went on a pilgrimage to the Dargah of Muinuddin Chishti, the foremost symbol of Islam’s ceaseless war on Hindus and Hinduism.
Though people sing more about his miracles, very few are aware of the real stand of this Sufi. Stories have been exaggerated to show Khwaja as a mystic with high spiritual powers, but the truth is different. He is projected as an example of “Sufi saintliness” and “secularism”, tending to all needy persons irrespective of their faith. However, little is known (or told?) about the major role that he played in Islamization of India. The belief of Khwaja in shariat and his support to Muslim invader Muhammad Ghori for establishment of Islamic rule in India clearly outlines his inclination towards radical Islam.
A very interesting excerpt as quoted in P M Currie’s book ‘The shrine and cult of Muinuddin Chishti of Ajmer’ exposes the true face of this ‘secular friend of the poor’:
“It is told that once when he went to perform the pilgrimage to the holy tomb of the Prophet Muhammad, one day from the inside of the pure and blessed tomb a cry came: ‘Send for Muinuddin’. When Muinuddin came to the door, he stood there and he saw that presence speak to him. “Muinuddin, you are the essence of my faith, but must go to Hindustan. There is a place called Ajmer, to which one of my sons (descendants) went for a holy war, and now he has become a martyr, and the place has passed again into the hands of infidels. By the grace of your footsteps there, once more shall Islam be made manifest, and the Kafirs be punished by God’s wrath.’’
“Accordingly, Muinuddin reached Ajmer in Hindustan. There he said: ‘Praise be to God, May he be exalted, for I have gained possession of the property of my brother. Although, at that time there were many temples of idols around the lake, when the Khwaja saw them, he said: ‘If God and His Prophet so will, it will not be long before I raze to the ground these idol-temples.’”
“This is followed by tales of Khwaja coming over those Hindu deities and teachers who were strongly opposed to his settling down there”
“It appears that shorn of miracles the story simply suggests that Khwaja came to India determined to eradicate idolatry and paganism and establish Islam in its place. He met with a lot of resistance from the local governor of Rai Pithaura besides resistance from Rai Pithaura himself. With the help of the immense treasure at his disposal and having converted many gullible Hindus to his faith, he became strong enough to invite Rai Pithaura to convert to Islam. Having failed to persuade him, Khwaja sent a message inviting Sultan Shahabuddin Ghori to attack India. Shahabuddin made unsuccessful invasions. Rai Pithaura always allowed him to go back unmolested after his defeat. Ultimately, however, he defeated Prithvi Raj Chauhan and killed him”.
According to another account in the Sufi lore, Muinuddin had made a few converts from among the local Hindus and started issuing orders to Prithivi Raj Chauhan, the Hindu king, for the benefit of these converts. When the king ignored him, he invited Muhammad Ghori to invade the Chauhan Kingdom. ‘Siyar-ul-Awliya ’, the most famous history of the Chishtiya School written by Khwaja Amir Khurd, another disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya, tells the following story:
“His [Muinuddin’s] blessed tongue uttered spontaneously, ‘We have handed over Pithora alive to the army of Islam.’ In those very days, Sultan Muizuddin Sam arrived in Ajmer from Ghazni. Pithora had to face the army of Islam. He was captured alive by Sultan Muizuddin… The Khwaja [Muinuddin] was a worker of great wonders. Before he reached Hindustan, all its cities right up to the point of sunrise were sunk in tumult and infidelity and were involved with idols and idolatry. Everyone among the rabble [Gods] of Hindustan claimed to be the great God and a co-sharer in the divinity of Allah. The people paid homage to stones, sods of clay, trees, quadrupeds, cows and bulls and their dung. The darkness of infidelism had made still more firm the seals on their hearts… Muinuddin was indeed the very sun of the true faith. As a result of his arrival, the darkness that had spread over this country was dispelled. It became bright and glowed in the light of Islam… Anyone who has become a Musalman in this country will stay a Musalman till the Day of Dissolution. His progeny will also remain Musalman… The people [of Hindustan] will be brought out of Darul-harb into Darul-Islam by means of many wars.” (Amir Khurd, Siyar-ul-Awliya, New Delhi, 1985, pp. 111-12)
The “Siyar al-Arifin” says about Khwaja Muinuddin: “After Muinuddin arrived in India, because of his sword, instead of idols and temples, there are Mosques, Mimbars and Mihrabs in the land of unbelief. In the land where the sayings of the idolaters were heard, there is now the sound of Allah-O-Akbar.”
Many Hindus have been misled, mostly by their own so-called ‘secular’ ‘politically correct’ scholars, to cherish the fond belief that the Sufis were spiritual seekers, and that unlike the Mullahs, they loved Hindu religious lore and liked their Hindu neighbours. The Chishtiya Sufis in particular have been chosen for such excessive praise. But the gullible Hindus hardly know that the Sufi ‘saints’ who travelled to India after the advent of Muinuddin Chishti were departments of the imperialist establishment of Islam. None of them looked kindly at the Hindus.
Four Islamic mystics namely Moinuddin (d. 1233 in Ajmer), Qutubuddin (d. 1236 in Delhi), Nizamuddin (d.1335 in Delhi) and Fariduddin (d.1265 in Pattan now in Pakistan) accompanied the Islamic invaders in India. All of them were from the Chistiya order of Islamic mysticism. Radiating from Delhi under Nizamuddin, the Chistiya spread its roots all across India. The famous Sufi Shine at Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan and Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi belong to this order.
The Sharia-guided mystic influence of Sufis produced the Muslim thinkers like Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, Shah Wali Ullah, Sayed Ahmad Barelavi, Karamat Ali, Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan, Allama Iqbal and Maulana Maududi. They used the mystic philosophy befitting to the political necessities of the time for revival of political supremacy of Islam. Of them, Sirhindi and Wali Ullah politicized the mystic ideology for political domination of Islam. They were projected as Islamic reformists for purifying Islam from any extraneous influences. They conveyed the political aspect of Islam to Muslim masses so aggressively that it created a permanent imprint on their psyche.
The mission of Shaikh Sirhindi (1564-1624) popularly known as Mujaddid (Renovator of Islam) was to purify Islam from the influence of Akbar with a view to countering his policy of “the Hindu wielding the sword of Islam” and “Peace with all”. Unhappy with the regime of Emperor Akbar for withdrawal of Jizya tax imposed on the Hindus, Sirhindi made frantic effort to purge Islam of all extraneous influences. He viewed Hindu mystics like Guru Nanak and Sant Kabir despicable, as they did not follow Sharia.
Sirhindi condemned the reign of Akbar for his ‘broadmindedness’ and policy of ‘peace with all’. He strongly criticized freedom of worship granted to the Hindus. ‘Hate-Hindu syndrome’ was so deep in him that “death of Akbar (1605) filled Shaikh Ahmad with hopes that the pristine purity of Islam would be implanted in India” (A History Sufism in India by Saiyed Athar Abbas Rizvi, Volume 2, 1992, Page 204)
With his strong contempt against Shias and the Hindus, Sirhind wrote several letters to the nobles in the court of Jahangir for guiding the emperor on the path of Shariat, and for removal of Kafirs (Shias and Hindus) from the administration. He was dead against any honourable status of Hindus in Islamic government. Sirhind wanted the religious freedom enjoyed by the Hindus during Akbar regime to be curbed. Enraged with his too much interference in administration, Jahangir imprisoned him in Gwalior (A History of Sufism in India by Saiyed Athar Abbas Rizvi, Vol. II, 1972, Page 178) but released him after one year. Despite this anti-Hindu tirade of Sirhindi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in 1919 eulogized the role of Mujaddid (Sirhind).
A specimen should suffice to show the quality of this man’s mind. In a letter, he wrote: “The honor of Islam lies in insulting kufr and kafirs. One who respects the kafirs dishonors the Muslims… The real purpose of levying jiziya on them is to humiliate them to such an extent that they may not be able to dress well and to live in grandeur. They should constantly remain terrified and trembling. It is intended to hold them under contempt and to uphold the honor and might of Islam.” (The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India by Sita Ram Goel)
In another letter, he said: “Cow-sacrifice in India is the noblest of Islamic practices. The kafirs may probably agree to pay jiziya but they shall never concede to cow-sacrifice.” (Muslim Separatism, Sita ram Goel)
Sirhindi wrote letters to many Muslim notables in the reign of Akbar and Jahangir. Professor S. A. A. Rizvi has cited select passages from the original Persian of Sirhindi’s letters. Some of these letters were in strong protest against Akbar’s policies vis-a-vis Hindus.
One of Sirhindi’s patrons was Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan whom many Hindus cherish as a Hindi poet and a devotee of Sri Krishna. It is unfortunate that quite a few recipients of these letters cannot be identified straight away because they are addressed by their titles and not by their names. As the letters are not dated, it is difficult to say whether the bearer of a particular title belonged to the reign of Akbar or Jahangir. The same title was given to several persons in succession. I reproduce below some passages from these significant letters in order to show how the mind of this great Sufi functioned. He was the leading light of the Naqshbandi Sufi silsila, and the foremost disciple of Khwaja Baqi Billah who brought this silsila to India in the reign of Akbar. I may add that the Prophet appeared quite frequently to both Baqi Billah and Sirhindi in their dreams or states of trance, and gave guidance to them. We reproduce below some of his statements.
- Ram and Krishna whom Hindus worship are insignificant creatures, and have been begotten by their parents… Ram could not protect his wife whom Ravan took away by force. How can he (Ram) help others?
- Before that kafir [Guru Arjun Deva] was executed this recluse [meaning himself] had seen in a dream that the reigning king had smashed the skull of idolatry. Indeed, he was a great idolater, and the leader of the idolaters, and the chief of unbelievers. May Allah blast him! The Holy Prophet who is the ruler of religion as well as the world, has cursed the idolaters as follows in some of his prayers – “O Allah, demean their society, create divisions in their ranks, destroy their homes, and get at them like the mighty one.”
Sirhindi ranks as one of the topmost sufis and theologians of Islam. Referring to his role, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad has written in his Tazkirah that “but for these letters Muslim nobles would not have stood by Islam and but for the efforts of Shaikh Ahmad, Akbar’s heterodoxy would have superseded Islam in India.” (S.A.A. Rizvi, Muslim Revivalist Movements in Northern India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Agra, 1965)
According to Professor S. A. A. Rizvi, “‘Shariat can be fostered through the sword’ was the slogan he [Sirhindi] raised for his contemporaries.”
Shah Waliullah, a prominent Muslim thinker of 18th century who shaped the destiny of Indian Muslims, was son of Shah Abdur Rahim, a Sufi who was employed by Aurangzeb for compiling the Fatawa-i-Alamgiri. Those who have illusions about Sufism will do well to study this master-piece of the Sufi mind. The son was also a Sufi of Naqshbandi order. But instead of turning to Rumi or Attar or Hafiz, he chose Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni as his hero. According to the Shah, Mahmud was the greatest figure in the history of Islam after the first four caliphs. He accused the historians of Islam of failing to recognise the fact that Mahmud’s horoscope had been identical with that of the Prophet, and that Mahmud had won as many and as significant victories in Jihad as the Prophet himself.
His contempt against the Hindus was identical to Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi. The rise of two Hindu rebellious groups namely Marathas and Jats against the Muslim rulers in 1750s stirred the mystic spirit of Wali Ullah and he invited Ahmad Shah Abdali, the Afghan ruler, to invade India to save the Muslims from the subjugation of Hindus. While formulating the outlines of his mystical ideology, he transformed the Islamic mysticism into a theo-political concept for supremacy of Islam. His ideology had no scope to accommodate any order of non-Islamic mysticism, which he regarded unhealthy. Carving out a new path for Sufism he became an active Islamist with a sole objective for resurgent Sunni political power in Delhi. (A History of Sufism in India, Vol. II, Rizvi, Page 259).
Wali Ullah infused new vigour in practice of Naqshbandi Sufi order. He synthesized the disciplines of the three major Sufi orders namely Qadari, Chisti and Naqshbandi with a view to unite the Muslim society against the Hindus. Like Shaikh Ahmad Sirhind, he was also against the presence of Hindu employees in the administration of Muslim rulers as he viewed it harmful to the purity of Islam. His attempt was to purify Islam from the spiritual influence of Hinduism.
He was the main guiding source for Muslims after the decline of Islamic rule in Indian subcontinent. Contrary to the commonly viewed Sufi tradition, he was not open to the spiritual tradition of local Hindus in any form. His main spiritual concern if any was for revival of Islamic India.
It is strange that most of the present-day Muslim scholars refuse to cite the actual statements made about Hindus and Hinduism by their heroes such as Ahmad Sirhindi and Shah Waliullah while praising them to the skies as saviours of Islam in India. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Allama Iqbal are shining examples of this intriguing silence. The late Professor Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi published two significant books on the history of Islam in India – Ulema in Politics (1972), and The Muslim Community of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent (1977). He has devoted many pages to Ahmad Sirhindi and Shah Waliullah in both the books. But he has not cited a single sentence written or spoken by the ‘great sufis’ on how they looked at Hindus and Hinduism. It is only Professor S.A.A Rizvi who has taken us into the secret chambers, so to say. Professor Rizvi is a Shia. And the venom which characters like Ahmad Sirhindi have poured on Hindus and Hinduism is quite comparable to that which they poured out on Shias and Shiism.
Like Sirhindi, Shah Waliullah also was full of the poison which goes by the name of Islam. But by the time he arrived on the scene, the situation for Islamic imperialism in India had become desperate. Forces of Indian nationalism had risen all over the country, and Islamic imperialism was on a fast retreat.
I am reproducing some portions from a letter written to Ahmad Shah Abdali (Ruler of Afghanistan) by Waliullah in which he is making frantic appeals to the swordsman of Islam for retrieving the situation:
“The presence of the kings of Islam is a great blessing from Allah… You should know that the country of Hindustan is a large land. In olden days, the kings of Islam had struggled hard and for long in order to conquer this foreign country. They could do it only in several turns …”
“Among the non-Muslim communities, one is that of the Marhatah (Maratha). They have a chief. For some time past, this community has been raising its head, and has become influential all over Hindustan…”
“In the countryside between Delhi and Agra, the Jat community used to till the land. In the reign of Shahjahan, this community had been ordered not to ride on horses, or keep muskets with them, or build fortresses for themselves. The kings that came later became careless, and this community has used the opportunity for building many forts, and collecting muskets…”
“The enemies have become more powerful after Nadir Shah, the army of Islam has disintegrated, and the empire of Delhi has become children’s play. Allah forbid, if the infidels continue as at present, and Muslims get (further) weakened; the very name of Islam will get wiped out…”
Sayed Ahmad Barelvi (1786-1831), a disciple of Abd al Aziz (the son of Shah Wali Ullah) continued the tradition of Waliullah and launched armed jehad against the non-Muslims with a view to restoring Darul-Islam (a land where Islam is having political power), but was killed in the battle of Balkot against Sikh leader Ranjit Singh. Indian Muslims continue to regard him as martyr for the cause of Islam. Karamat Ali, a disciple of Sayed Ahmad Barelavi further developed the ideology for purifying Islam from the influences of Hindu custom and tradition.
Sufi during British Rule in India:
Sufi movement became inactive with the decline of Muslim power in India. With the failure of armed resistance against the British and Sikh- Hindu combined, the followers of hard line Sufism were forced to adjust with the ground reality of non-Muslim occupation of Indian subcontinent but did not reconcile with it. The failure of Sepoy mutiny and consolidation of British power in Indian subcontinent was a further jolt on the radical Islamists, but all the Islamic revivalist movements like Deoband, Aligarh and Pakistan drew their inspirations from the ‘anti-Hindu syndrome’ of Sufi saints like Sirhind and Shah Wali Ullah. Khilafat movement and subsequent Pakistan movement were the result of the jihadi interpretation of Wali Ullah brand of Sufi-jehad against the political domination of non-believers. The resistance of Muslims against the British and subsequently against the Indian National Congress was due to deep and hard line influence of Shah Wali Ullah over them.
Before the failure of 1857 Sepoy mutiny, Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) was a follower of the neo-Sufi cult of Shah Waliullah. Syed Ahmad Khan gradually distanced himself from Shah Wali Ullah. But firmly rooted in the Indian Islamic mysticism, he was deeply pained with the plight of Muslims after the collapse of Sepoy mutiny of 1857. He therefore took up the challenge of modern education and transformed the revolutionary mystic ideology of Shah Wali Ullah for revitalisation of Islamic glory through western education. Had he distanced himself from Wali Ullah, he would not have initiated the ‘two-nation theory’ on the line of this Sufi Islamist to promote the movement of Muslim separatism through his Aligarh Movement. It is to be remembered that amidst much controversy, Khan had said in 1883 that Hindus and Muslims were “two separate nations” (Studies in Islamic Culture by Prof. Aziz Ahmad, 2000, Page 265).
Sir Sayed’s philosophy was a synthesis of progressive and orthodox Islam. On one hand, he favoured modern education on European pattern and on the other he supported Islamic orthodoxy for superior religious identity of Muslims. His Aligarh movement was a strategic but a hidden alliance of the Muslims with British under latter’s sovereignty to revive the supremacy of Muslims. His excluvist belief of Muslims’ superiority was based on the mystic ideology of Wali Ullah. It was against the unity of Indian society.
Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan had questioned not only the national character of the Indian National Congress but also the very concept of Indian nationalism. In his considered opinion, Hindus and Muslims could not live together unless the one conquered and put down the other. The leaders of the Congress went out in search of some Muslim notables who could counter this hostile campaign. They found a few who agreed to preside over the Congress sessions or to speak from its platform. But all these ‘Nationalist Muslims’ ended by more or less singing the tune set by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.
Sufism in India has commonly been viewed as a secular attempt for eternal quest of the soul for its direct experience of the ultimate Super power. For centuries the Hindus accepted Sufi shrines as symbol of communal harmony. A large number of them have been offering prayers in Sufi shrines without any reservation, but this liberal gesture has not been reciprocated by Muslims.
The basic belief of mystic movements is said to be unity of God. Unity of God denotes social unity and universal brotherhood. But these political mystics not only divided the society on the basis of religion but their doctrine created an undying Hindu-Muslim conflict in the region. The spirit of mysticism is to resolve any problem confronting the society. But Sufi movement failed to resolve Hindu-Muslim dilemma in Indian society.
The concept of Tawhid (Unity in God), which is said to be the real formulation of Sufism, suggests that Islamic mysticism has no difference with the formulations of other non-Islamic faiths about the oneness of God. On this basis Sufism became popular in India during the period of Muslim rule. But when the Sufis supported the Muslims in their political conflict with the Hindus and played important role in conversion of Hindus to Islam, it gave birth to politicisation of religion, which generated communal tension between the two major religious communities.
Had Sufism as commonly been viewed as an attempt to adapt Islam in Hindu tradition, the philosophy of two-nation theory would not have emerged. Actually, Sufism widened the gap of mistrust between the two major religious communities of South Asia – Hindus and Muslims.
Contrary to the common perception that Sufism tried to unify the Hindu-Muslim spirituality for a communal harmony, the political Islamists of Sufi background accelerated the process of Muslim separatism in Indian subcontinent. Their movements were the by-products of Sufi tradition of Islam. They were basically in favour of the political power of Islam. There is plenty of primary literature available in Arabic and Persian regarding the rise, development, and doings of numerous Sufi silsilas in India. Some of this literature has been translated into Urdu and English as well. A study of this literature leaves little doubt that sufis were the most fanatic and fundamentalist elements in the Islamic establishment in medieval times. Hindus, who have been misled into believing that these Sufis were spiritual seekers like Indian sages and seers, should go to this literature rather than fall for latter-day Islamic propaganda. I have presented here the historical facts that the role played by so-called Sufi saints like Chisti and Gazi Miyan was detrimental to national interest. We being rational beings, discard all stories of miracles as either cheap publicity stunts concocted by certain followers or cases of petty illusions. Almost all scientists and rationally guided educated people of world would agree on this. Cutting out this superstitious and miracle chaff, if we review the stories of Chisti and Gazi Miyan, we find that they supported the invaders. Gazi Miyan was himself an invader!
The ruin of Hindus and Hinduism in Kashmir in particular, can be safely credited to sufis who functioned there from the early thirteenth century onwards. These savages have been presented as saints by cunning Hindu politicians, ignorant Bollywood actors, careless cricketers and so-called secular (that is, anti-India) media. Now the strategy of Sufis like Chisti has been adopted by a new breed of so-called scholars like Zakir Naik, who is showcasing Islam as a peaceful religion with a view to spreading Islam by hoodwinking Hindus.
Let’s have a glimpse of how Indian media can transform anti-social elements into national heroes overnight:
On the night of 10th May 1995, Sheikh Nuruddin’s mausoleum known as “Charare Sharif” was burnt down, very interesting, by Muslim terrorists. The Indian Press described it as “the sacred Dargah of Sufi Saint Nuruddin Nurani” (India Today), “Symbol of Secularism, a most valuable symbol of cultural identity” (Frontline) and “Adobe of Rishis” (The Economic Times) without having any idea of the person’s historical facts.
It is imperative to note that among the Sufis who played a major role in converting Hindus of Kashmir to Islam Sheikh Nuruddin popularly known as “Rishi Nur” holds a very high place. His technique of conversion was deceit.
Such is the story of Sufism that is considered as the epitome of ‘secular fabric’ of this nation. This is a short history of the “affection” that Sufis had for the native Indians. However, the funding to these shrines of these sufis continues as foolish Hindus visit these tombs. In fact, many of these tombs in India get more Hindu visitors than Muslim visitors. Needless to say large amounts of money are doled out by the gullible non-believers at these tombs. What exactly this money goes on to fund is anybody’s guess. However, all I can say here is that: “Hindus, keep it up!”
It is propagated that the sufis were able to work miracles. If they really had possessed the miraculous powers, they would have either Islamized whole India in no time, which was in fact their hidden agenda or annihilated those Hindus who were not willing to embrace Islam. This goes to prove that they had no such powers in their life time, but it is also true that they are now working miracles after their death, lying in their graves, and attracting to their “sacred” graves the same stupid Hindu devotees whom they were hell bent on wiping out from their own soil.
I sometimes wonder whether these so-called ‘secular’ saints were friends of India or fiends for Indians.
- Purushottam: Islamization of India by Sufis
- R. Upadhyay: Sufism in India: Its origin, history and politics
- Anwar Shaikh: Islam, Sex and Violence
- Dr. K. S. Lal: Social History of Muslims in Bengal
- Dr. K. S. Lal: The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India
- Saiyed Athar Abbas Rizvi: A History of Sufism in India
- Sita Ram Goel: The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India
- Sita Ram Goel: Hindu Temples – What Happened to Them, Vol. 1
- Nagendra Kumar Singh: Islamic Mysticism in India
- Claude Markowitz (Ed.): A History of Modern India
- P M Currie: The shrine and cult of Muinuddin Chishti of Ajmer
- Dr. Ali Sina: Understanding Muhammad
- Dr. Ali Sina: articles on www.faithfreedom.org
- M A Khan: articles on www.islam-watch.org
- Articles on www.agniveer.com
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